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29 August 2012
On August 21 2012 the Federal Court of Justice ruled (1) that if an airline's flight schedule cannot be operated in full or to a significant extent due to a strike, passengers have no right to compensation pursuant to EU Regulation 261/2004 because the 'extraordinary circumstances' defence applies.
In two lawsuits the claimants sought compensation pursuant to Articles 7 and 5 of Regulation 261/2004 due to the cancellation of their flights following the call for a strike by the pilots' association Vereinigung Cockpit. In both cases the claimants were unable to return to Germany from the United States until several days after the originally scheduled date.
The Federal Court of Justice ruled that the 'extraordinary circumstances' defence pursuant to Article 5, Paragraph 3 of Regulation 261/2004 applies in cases where the airline cannot operate its flight schedule in full or to a significant extent due to a strike. In this regard, the court ruled that the standards applied by the European Court of Justice to cases in which technical defects occurred should also apply to extraordinary circumstances which are not explicitly listed in the regulation. The decisive factor is whether the cancellation results from circumstances which:
According to the Federal Court of Justice, a trade union's call for a strike constitutes such an event which impacts on the airline outside its ordinary course of business. A strike systematically interferes with, or can even bring to a halt, an airline's ordinary course of business. Airlines generally have no control over such circumstances, as the decision to strike is taken by employees and is not in the airline's ordinary course of business. However, the airline must take reasonable measures to minimise the effects of a strike – for example, by reorganising its flight schedule (if possible) and by organising business in such a way that normal operations can be resumed as soon as possible once the strike is over.
For further information on this topic please contact Ulrich Steppler or Katharina Sarah Meigel at Arnecke Siebold Rechtsanwälte by telephone (+49 69 97 98 85 0), fax (+49 69 97 98 85 85) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
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